Friday was another exciting day with all the major sports in action (except for the NFL) as we got another big weekend started.
We won our Best Bet again with Phillies 1st 5 + 100 vs. the Padres as the Phillies led 3-2 after 5 innings on the way to a 4-2 win in Game 3 of the NLCS. After originally thinking I would end up on the road underdogs in each game of that series, I’m glad I flipped to the HOME dog when oddsmakers installed the Padres as road chalk for Game 3.
Without further ado, let’s get to all of our nightly recaps (since there are so many), then we’ll look for plays for Saturday (I already listed my college football plays for Saturday in Friday’s column) and of course update our Wednesday column – which we rerun every day through the weekend – with our “takes” on the rest of the NFL Week 7 card.
MLB: Phillies ( 110 home underdogs) beat Padres 4-2 Friday night to take 2-1 lead in the NLCS (stayed Under the betting total of 7.5 runs). Favorites dipped to 3-2 in LCS round, dogs retake 15-14 lead overall with 1 game closing pick-'em. Home teams improved to 4-1 in this round and 18-12 overall. Unders improved to 4-1 in this round and 16-13-1 overall
NBA: Faves went 7-4 SU on Friday but just 5-4-2 ATS with pushes by the Wizards (-2 vs. Bulls) and Grizzlies (-7 at Rockets). The upsets were by the Jazz (+ 8 at Timberwolves), Nuggets (+ 5.5 at Warriors), Blazers (+ 5 vs. Suns) and Spurs (+ 1.5 at Pacers). Road teams went 6-5 SU and 5-4-2 ATS. Overs led 6-4-1 with the push in Suns-Blazers (224).
More NBA: After 4 days of the regular season, faves lead 18-9 SU, but dogs still lead 12-11-4 ATS. Home teams' lead dropped to 14-13 SU, while road teams also dipped to 15-8-4 ATS after an even hotter start. Over/Unders now tied 12-12-3.
NHL: Underdogs swept 3-0 on Friday with upsets by the Kraken (+ 200 at Avalanche), Blackhawks (+ 100 vs. Red Wings) and Lightning (-105 at Panthers). Road teams led 2-1 while Unders also led 2-1. On season, faves still lead 44-27 with 2 pick-’ems, home teams lead 43-28 with 2 neutral-site games and Overs 42-30-1.
CFB: Tulsa (-13.5) beat Temple 27-16, but did NOT cover (stayed Under betting total of 53.5 points) and Western Kentucky (-1) beat UAB 20-17 and did cover (stayed way Under 60.5).
Kansas State + 3.5 at TCU: As I wrote in Friday's column, I'm basically betting these CFB dogs as I love their chances to pull outright upsets, but I'll gladly take the points.
Indiana + 3 at Rutgers
Utah State + 4.5 at Wyoming
UCLA + 6.5 at Oregon
Oklahoma State + 6.5 vs. Texas:
This line is down to 6 at most books, but I obviously still like the Cowboys as you just risk a push if it lands on 6.
Mississippi + 2.5 at LSU:
We also look to be on the right side of this line as it's dropped to 1 at a lot of books, but again we're counting on Ole Miss to pull the minor upset.
Astros 1st 5 + 0.5 -115 at Yankees: With the ALCS moving to New York, the Astros are on a roll with a 2-0 series lead and winners of six straight overall. I’m not going to fade them (well, at least until they lose!), so taking them Saturday even though they’re facing Gerrit Cole. Besides, Cristian Javier’s stats (11-9, 2.58 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, including 0.59 WHIP in last 3 starts. You can also get Astros 1st 5 + 135 money line. I’m passing on Braves-Phillies.
And here's the rerun of our weekly column from Wednesday where we give our "takes" on the full NFL Week 7 card:
Welcome to our weekly Wednesday column where we give our “takes” on the full NFL schedule.
For those new to the way I handicap, I’m a self-proclaimed “dog-or-pass” bettor, so I’m looking for the most likely dogs to cover each week. However, I also have a lot of longtime readers who bet plenty of chalk and they use this column to see which dogs I’m unable/unwilling to make a case for, and they see that as tacit approval to bet the favorite.
Contrary to the opinion of some people out there, I don’t bet every dog as I do believe there are bad dogs just like there are bad favorites.
This approach has continued to work very well so far this season as dogs are 52-37-3 ATS (58.4%) vs. my Vegas consensus closing lines with 2 games closing pick’-em (Commanders-Lions in Week 2, Titans-Commanders in Week 5). Last week, faves went 8-6 SU but faves/dogs split 7-7 ATS with the Broncos the only ATS-covering dog that didn’t win outright.
It was shaping up as an awesome Sunday as I won my first 3 Best Bets from this column on the Jets + 7.5 at the Packers, Falcons + 4.5 vs. the 49ers and Patriots + 2.5 at the Browns all not only covering but pulling outright upsets. It was setting up to be an epic day as the Panthers (+ 10 at the Rams) jumped out to an early lead, but unfortunately they couldn’t hold on as they not only lost but also failed to cover in a 24-10 loss. Then, on Sunday night, the Cowboys (+ 6.5) rallied to get within 20-17 of the Eagles but ended up losing 26-17 and failing to cover.
We did hit our top 2-team, 6-point teasers on the Saints + 8/Seahawks + 8.5 and Chiefs + 8/Seahawks + 8.5, but it could have been so much better.
We’ll try to find the same kind of live dogs this weekend. For those who don’t know, even if I don’t have an official Best Bet on a game, I still do my “pool play” strategy for those who are in contests where you have to pick every game.
Note: Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of Tuesday night unless otherwise noted. Check out VSIN.com's live NFL odds page here for current odds.
New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals (-2)
After two straight Thursday night duds (the Colts’ 12-9 win at the Broncos in Week 5 and the Commanders’ 12-7 win at the Bears in Week 6), this week’s matchup at least has an intriguing storyline with DeAndre Hopkins returning from his 6-game PED suspension. The Cardinals’ offense has been woeful (ranked No. 16 at 346 yards per game) without him, especially in first halves. Arizona QB Kyler Murray is clearly better with Hopkins, but will the improvement be enough against a Saints team that needs this game just as much as the Cardinals as both teams are 2-4. As of deadline Tuesday night, it was still uncertain whether Jameis Winston would return or if Andy Dalton will get another start. Either way, the play is to tease the Saints up through the key numbers of 3 and 7. This line opened Cardinals -1.5 but has been steadily drifting higher, so tease + 2.5 up to + 8.5 if you can get it. There are several teasers to pair this with on Sunday (we’ll get to those in a bit), but for our purposes here, let’s use it with the Over 38.5 in this game.
Best Bet: 2-team, 6-point teaser on Saints + 8.5/Over 38.5. Update: WINNER!
Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys (-7)
I gave out the Lions as one of my early Best Bets for this week on “The Greg Peterson Experience” (12:15 a.m. ET/9:15 p.m. Sunday nights, or 15 minutes into the archived version). This is partly a fade of the Cowboys, who might be throwing a rusty Dak Prescott back into the starting lineup, but it’s mostly a play on the Lions, who have been golden in the underdog role (11-6 ATS last year, 3-1 ATS this year with a loss the only time they were favored vs. the Seahawks). Granted, the Lions were shut out 29-0 at the Patriots in Week 5, but we’re counting on them to have used their much-needed bye week to get back on track as Jared Goff and the Lions were the top offensive team in the league through the first four weeks of the season and are still No. 2 at 411.8 yard per game and No. 3 with 28 points per game. In addition, we picked up a nice little tidbit from our VSiN colleague Steve Makinen’s “post-bye week” column as the Lions are 7-2-1 SU and 9-1 ATS in post-bye week games since 2012.
Best Bet: Lions + 7 (pool play: Lions 67/33 in ATS contests – higher at 7.5, lower at 6.5 – though Cowboys still 70/30 in SU pools). Update: We hope our readers grabbed the 7 when we gave this out Sunday and Monday -- or when we mentioned in Friday's column that it was trending toward 6.5.
New York Giants at Jacksonville Jaguars (-3)
This is another early game I gave out and bet I made right away as I was stunned that the red-hot Giants (5-1 SU and ATS) were this big of an underdog against the Jaguars (2-4 SU and ATS). Well, it wasn’t too much of a surprise as that’s around where the advance line was over the summer and up through last week, but I thought the Giants’ start and especially their upsets of the Packers and Ravens the past two weeks would have this line moving toward the G-men. In fact, I’m not sure the right team is favored as the Jaguars – as improved as they are – shouldn't be the chalk as the only time they’ve been put in the favorite’s role this season was two weeks ago when they lost 13-6 to the Texans as 7-point home favorites. The only thing I feared was that I would be on a public dog, which is usually the kiss of death, but I’m pot-committed here.
Best Bet: Giants + 3 (pool play: Giants 67/33 in ATS contests – higher at 3.5, lower at 2.5 – and also taking them 60/40 in SU pools).
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-2.5)
Both teams had rough starts to the season, but the Titans (3-2 and leading the AFC South) have won three straight games while the Colts have back-to-back wins over the Broncos and Jaguars. This is an early-season rematch as these teams met just three weeks ago with Tennessee winning 24-17 at Indy, so I’m not interested in the Colts at this short number (besides, the Titans are 6-0 SU and 5-0-1 ATS in their last six post-bye week games), but I do like them as a teaser play as this should be another one-score game. This is a great spot to discuss the other “advantage” or “Wong” teasers that capture the key numbers of 3 and 7: Jets teased up from + 1.5 to + 7.5 at the Broncos and the Patriots teased down from -8 to -2 vs. the Bears. As a dog bettor, I usually prefer teasing the short dogs up over a TD, but will probably play this with both. Note: some people also like to tease 6- and 7-point favorites down to around pick-’em, but those have been burning money this year and I don’t like many of those options this week.
Best Bet: 2-team, 6-point teaser on Colts + 8.5/Jets + 7.5 at Broncos, plus other teasers (pool play: Colts 55/45 in ATS contests, but Titans 55/45 in SU pools).
Atlanta Falcons at Cincinnati Bengals (-6)
Predicted by many to be the worst team in the league, the Falcons are the biggest overachieving team of the season so far as they’re 6-0 ATS and the last undefeated team vs. the spread after upsetting the 49ers 28-14 on Sunday. With a hodge-podge of RBs and WRs, Marcus Mariota has had the Falcons in every game as they’ve also upset the Browns and Seahawks while covering in losses to the Saints, Rams and Buccaneers. The Bengals have been battling the “Super Bowl loser hangover” since the start of the season with an 0-2 start but are now tied for first in the AFC North with the Ravens at 3-3. I’m still willing to fade them as they’re still not playing as well as they did last year. And I’m going to stick with the Falcons as long as their run lasts.
Best Bet: Falcons + 6 (pool play: Falcons 60/40 in ATS contests, though Bengals still 67/33 in SU pools). Update: line was up to 6.5 as of early Friday at several books (and even more on Saturday); can it get to 7?
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-6.5)
It’s almost inconceivable how the Ravens have suffered their three losses this season. They blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of a 24-20 loss at the Giants on Sunday. The collapse wasn’t as extreme as their losses to the Dolphins and Bills, but it was still not what we expect from coach John Harbaugh or Lamar Jackson. Still, I can’t pull the trigger on the Browns, who keep doing Browns things as they also blew a big lead to the Jets in Week 2 and then have squandered a 2-1 with three straight losses to the Falcons, Chargers and Dolphins.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Browns 55/45 in ATS contests on principle, but Ravens 80/20 in SU contests).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-11) at Carolina Panthers
This was my third early recommendation of the week when the Panthers opened as 10-point home dogs vs the Buccaneers, though I did add the caveat that I was waiting to bet it as we felt this line would go higher. And sure enough, even though the Bucs haven’t been as strong as expected (some blame Tom Brady’s marital distractions, some say his age is finally catching up to him), this line has been bet up to 10.5 at all books and up to 11 at DraftKings and other books as of early Wednesday. I get it, as most people are betting against the dysfunctional Panthers, who fired coach Matt Ruhle and then lost 24-10 to the Rams on Sunday with WR Robbie Anderson being kicked off the sideline. However, as ugly as that non-cover ended up being (and I was on the Panthers + 10), I still saw enough from them taking a 10-7 lead into the locker-room that they can still stay in games. Besides, the Bucs are just 3-3 SU and 2-4 ATS with four straight non-covers. I’ll have to plug my nose, but give me the ugly double-digit home dog.
Best Bet: Panthers + 11 (pool play: Panthers 67/33 in ATS contests, but Buccaneers still 75/25 in SU pools). Update: line up to 13 after Thursday's trade of Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers, but we like the Panthers even more as it's mostly a fade of the Bucs; and even at 13.5 as of late Friday night at Circa, so shop for best number as always.
Green Bay Packers (-5.5) at Washington Commanders
Speaking of ugly dogs … but I’m going to pass on this one, even though we’ve successfully faded the Packers the last three weeks with the Patriots, Giants and Jets. But we have to think Aaron Rodgers is going to bounce back at some point this season, and this seems like a good spot, even though I am intrigued by the underrated Taylor Heinicke starting in place of the injured Carson Wentz. Frankly, I don’t want to spend too much time on this game as I fear I might talk myself into the dog. This number is too short for me to do that, though I guess check my daily columns later in the week as I might change my mind if the public bets this line higher.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Packers 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools). Update: this line is actually down to 4.5 at most books as of early Friday, so looking more doubtful that we'll talk ourselves into taking the Commanders.
New York Jets at Denver Broncos (-1.5)
This is a game of two teams that look like they’re heading in opposite directions. With the offseason acquisition of Russell Wilson, the Broncos were expected to be right in the mix of a seemingly strong top-to-bottom AFC West), but instead they’re 2-4 with two uninspiring wins (16-9 over the Texans in Week 2 and 11-10 over the 49ers in Week 3) and dead-last in scoring offense at a mere 15.2 points per game. Meanwhile, the J-e-t-s, Jets, Jets, Jets are soaring higher than anyone expected at 4-2. They got a lift from veteran Joe Flacco when Zach Wilson wasn’t able to start the season, and Wilson has kept the momentum with three straight upsets of the Steelers, Dolphins and Packers. The advance line for this game was as high as Broncos -7.5, but oddsmakers and bettors have been adjusting their power ratings on both of these teams so much that the game reopened at Broncos between -3 and -3.5 at most books. As of deadline, Wilson had an MRI on an injured hamstring and is considered day-to-day, so this line has dropped to Broncos -1.5, which puts it in prime teaser territory.
Best Bet: Jets in teasers, led by Colts + 8.5/Jets + 7.5 (pool play: Jets 55/45 in ATS contests, but Broncos still 55/45 in SU pools unless Wilson is out). Update: this line has been bet down to pick-'em at a lot of books and no longer in "prime teaser territory" though would still recommend if you can tease up to + 7.
Houston Texans at Las Vegas Raiders (-7)
Why are the Raiders (1-4 SU, 2-3 ATS) favored by a full touchdown? OK, I know it’s because they’re facing the Texans, who are 1-3-1 SU, but not many people realize that they're 3-1-1 ATS with a tie/cover vs. the Colts and a cover in their loss at the Broncos before upsetting the Jaguars 13-6 prior to their bye week. So, are they really that much worse? I say “no” and will take the inflated line. The Raiders’ lone win/cover was a 9-point win over the Broncos (which, again, the Texans also covered against) and they failed to cover in a loss to the Chargers just like the Texans did. In addition, the Texans are 8-3 SU and 7-4 ATS in their last 11 post-bye week games while the Raiders are on a 0-5 SU and ATS skid in post-bye week games, so we’re counting on the Texans to come out of their bye week stronger (or at least keep this within one score).
Best Bet: Texans + 7 (pool play: Texans 67/33 in ATS contests, but Raiders still around 67/33 in SU pools).
Kansas City Chiefs (-3) at San Francisco 49ers
This should be one of the most entertaining games on Sunday, but I’m not sure I’ll have a wager on it. The line is a little short for me to get involved on the 49ers, even as a home underdog (I’ll probably bite if the public bets it up to 3.5 by the weekend). The 49ers are a pretty complete team with Jimmy Garoppolo taking over for Trey Lance, but they’re still only 3-3 after losing at the Falcons on Sunday. The Chiefs are also still one of the top teams in the league despite losses to the Colts and Bills, certainly no shame in the latter.
Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: 49ers 55/45 in ATS contests – higher at 3.5, lower at 2.5 – but Chiefs around 67/33 in SU pools). Update: the 49ers are another public dog as the line is down to 1 at a lot of books, so I'm passing (though I might add 49ers in a teaser or two).
Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5)
We saw advance lines on this game of around Chargers -8, so we’ve lost some value, but I believe the adjustment is warranted and I’m still willing to back the underdog Seahawks. Geno Smith has filled in just fine for the departed Russell Wilson and Seattle ranked No. 12 in total offense with 356 yards per game (not too far behind the No. 7 Chargers at 374.8 ypg). The Seahawks are 3-3 – tied for first in the NFC West with the Rams and 49ers – with upsets of the Broncos, Lions and Cardinals. The Chargers are 4-2 – tied for first in the AFC West with the Chiefs – but just 3-3 ATS as they’re historically not good in the favorite’s role. We saw that again in their 19-16 OT win vs. the Broncos on Monday night as 4-point home favorites. The Seahawks should keep this close with a shot at the outright upset.
Best Bet: Seahawks + 6.5 (pool play: Seahawks 67/33 in ATS contests, though Chargers still around 67/33 in SU pools). Update: we hope everyone grabbed the 6.5 as the line is down to 5 at most books, though we still recommend at + 4.5 or higher.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins (-7)
This isn’t quite the marquee matchup that we’ve been getting most Sunday nights this season, but it’s still an interesting one to handicap (and it’s a standalone game so we’ll all be watching regardless). The Steelers are coming in off a stunning 20-18 upset of the Buccaneers as 9.5-point road underdogs. The Steelers are still only 2-4 and rank No, 29 in both total offense and total defense. The Dolphins, who are expected to get Tua Tagovailoa back for this game, are 3-3 with back-to-back losses to the Jets and Vikings, but the offense still ranks No. 8 at 366.2 yards per game despite the QB carousel of Tagovailoa, Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson. As of deadline, DraftKings had the Dolphins at -7 -115. We’ll see if the public pushes it to 7.5, where the sharps would probably buy back on the underdog Steelers (and I would be tempted to do so as well).
Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: Steelers 55/45 in ATS contests – higher at 7.5, lower at 6.5 – but Dolphins around 75/25 in SU pools). Update: this line has indeed been bet up to 7.5 as of early Saturday, though I'm still undecided if I'll pull the trigger.
Chicago Bears at New England Patriots (-8)
The Bailey Zappe hype machine continues as this line has been bet from -7 to -8. I bet Zappe plenty at Western Kentucky, and in the preseason, so I’m glad to see him get a shot and causing a bit of a QB controversy in New England. There are plenty of bettors also willing to fade the Bears, so I advise readers wanting to include the Patriots in some 2-team, 6-point teasers to bet them ASAP before the line steams even higher (note: some books will artificially inflate favorites in this range up to -9 or -9.5 in an attempt to discourage teasers). The Bears’ offense (ranked No. 28th in the league) isn’t much of a threat to keep up with the Patriots, who just shut out the Lions two weeks ago.
Best Bet: Pass, except for Patriots anchoring teasers (pool play: Patriots 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 85/15 in SU pools).